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A Practice of Presence for the New Year

As I reflect on 2021 and think about what the coming year will bring, I have been thinking about how much time I spend in those bookended spaces of the past and future. This time of year is full "best of" lists and reflections of important moments and news. It is also rife with anticipation of what the new year will bring, new year's resolutions, intentions, vacations, more plans, hoping for a better year, and so on.

What I keep coming back to is that the calendar year is a marker, a constructed marker, for us humans to keep time. It's our metronome. The clock ticks on. The seasons change. The sun rises and sets. December turns to January. 2021 to 2022.

Yet, what yoga asks of us is to forget the clock, to dismiss the calendar, to avoid looking toward what has been or what may be and instead focus on the moment as it arrives. This is no easy task.

Our minds are constantly working, taking us from one thought to another. We solve problems, we make plans, we anticipate, we remember. But when we come to our practice, we are asked to sluff all that off, or at least dampen it, so we can bring our attention to our very current experience.

So, as I think about what 2021 has been and perhaps what 2022 will bring, it makes me feel like all I want to do is remember to listen to each breath as it comes and goes, to feel each footfall on the ground, to take in my surroundings, to listen intently to what someone is saying, to watch the clouds move overhead, and to revel in this experience of life, which is so short and so fleeting.

And I, too, forget. I get distracted...easily. My mind flits about like a hummingbird migrating from one bloom to the next. I am often happy to be led into distractions of entertainment, work, reading, trainings, more work, more planning. But those moments when I am led into stillness, led into feeling the internal workings of my body, my breath, my heartbeat, when the strings pulling me in different directions go slack is when I am able to feel fully immersed in what I am doing.

But then I forget, get distracted, and the cycle continues. Always.

This is why we call yoga a practice. And it is in the returning to the practice that we become more skilled at more easily dropping into our consciousness, we can more easily observe our internal experience. Of course, it's no easy task. But we come back to it again and again, knowing some days will be more difficult to drop in, but the trick is not to run away.

So I invite you, today and the next day and the next to, for a moment, forget about the past, don't worry about the future, stop planning. Tune into your breath. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice your surroundings. Put your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat. Enjoy the moment. And know, that it's there for you, anytime, to access and enjoy your unique and grand experience of life.

Om, om, om.

~ Shoshana

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